Seneca President Barry Snyder is at the Capitol today meeting with lawmakers to build support for the western New York tribe’s gaming compact as it remains in a dispute with the Cuomo administration.
Snyder told Gannett’s Albany Bureau that he’s hopeful the meeting with lawmakers and legislative leaders will better present the tribe’s side as it continues in arbitration hearings with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“We just want the state of New York to honor the compact, which was an agreement between us and the state of New York,” Snyder said as he walked between meetings. “And that’s basically what we’re here for, to keep the compact intact. The compact is a good compact, and I think it’s good for us and good for the state.”
The Senecas, which run three casinos in western New York, have withheld more than $500 million in revenue to the state because it believes its gaming compact has been breached by the existence of three racetracks with video-lottery terminals in their exclusivity zone. The compact was signed in 2002 as part of a major expansion of gambling in New York under then-Gov. George Pataki.
In recent weeks, Cuomo has reached deals with the two other tribes that have gaming compacts — the Oneidas in central New York and the Mohawks in northern New York. Yet the Senecas and Cuomo have yet to reach an agreement. The sides were expected to meet privately today.
“If we can talk with the governor and make a deal, that’s fine. But if we can’t, that’s what we are here for today,” Snyder said.
The Senecas’ exclusivity stretches through the Rochester area and the Finger Lakes, and the Senecas have been rumored to be eying a casino in that area if it settles its dispute with the state.
Snyder downplayed that possibility, saying the tribe’s focus is only on settling its disagreement with the state.
“I don’t want people to misconstrue what we are here for. We’re hear to talk about the validity of our compact we have now with the state,” Snyder said. “And we’re talking about there is a violation and it’s in arbitration. We want to finish arbitration.”